Slave to Fashion or Slave to Halacha?

Chapter 18 of Parshat Acharei Mot starts off with the words:


God spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to B’nai Yisrael and say to them: “I am HaShem your God. Do not perform the practice of the land of Egypt in which you dwelled; and do not perform the practice of the land of C’naan to which I bring you, and do not follow their traditions- ‘ubechukoteihem lo telechu’. Carry out My laws and safeguard my decrees to follow them; I am HaShem your God. You shall observe My decrees and My laws, which man shall carry out and by which he shall live- I am HaShem.”


Sentence 3 ends with the words: “U’bechukoteihem lo telechu”, do not follow non Jewish traditions.


Rashi explains that the non Jewish traditions are their customs/ social obligations such as attending theaters and stadiums (ie avoda zara, idol worship, gladiators etc)


Rabbi Meir says that this refers to the ways of the Emorites- who followed superstitious practices.


Sifra adds that this prohibition would include attempts to make oneself look like the nations and imitate promiscuous practices.


How can this be interpreted today?


Can we shop for our clothing in mainstream department stores or is that considered “in the ways of the non Jews”?


I believe that it all depends on what you are buying and if you are a “slave to fashion”.


A slave to fashion is a person who must buy and wear everything in the latest fashion magazines, regardless of whether it is Halachically appropriate or not.


An educated consumer can go into a store and look with a Halachic eye to determine what to buy and what would not be considered modest or appropriate.


Not too long ago, I walked into a Jerusalem store called “Top Shop”. As soon as the saleswomen saw me walk in, she told me not to bother looking around because all of the clothing that they carry would not be appropriate for a religious woman. Since I was dressed modestly when I walked into the store she didn’t want to waste my time in a store that didn’t offer anything modest.